November has been a month full of activity for the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center. On Oct. 31, 24-year Library Director Bill Parton said his goodbyes and relinquished his position to Brent Etzel, who began his Arkansas Tech career on Nov. 3. Under Etzel’s administration, expansion of library hours has already become a reality.
The library is now open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Mondays through Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays. The library will be open 24/7 during finals week.
Parton, who knew Tech would be a good place to retire, witnessed many seasons of change for not only the library but the community of Russellville itself.
“The physical plant with its new buildings — it’s almost unrecognizable,” Parton said.
Parton went on to mention the growth in faculty, student size and accredited academic programs at Tech.
“We had around 4,000 students when I started, and now we have 12,000,” Parton said. “That’s three times bigger than when I came to Tech.”
Parton said he left Tech knowing he would return at least once a week to enjoy retirement by spending time among the library’s current collection of materials.
Etzel inherited the position and the project of extending the library’s hours of operation, which has been a request of students for quite some time. Arkansas Tech’s Student Government Association has made more than one push for the change.
Etzel said the extension of library hours, which was announced on Nov. 11, was easy to accommodate.
“We’re a large university — that’s a good thing. Library and campus wide, we need to look for new ways to meet the needs of the growing student body,” Etzel said. “I hope being open until 1 a.m. is a good move toward that goal.”
The library staff is working in cooperation with Public Safety to ensure students make it safely out of the building and to their vehicles to ease the worry that comes with leaving the building at 1 a.m.
Future plans for change include more study space and a push toward more use of databases.
“It’s the way people do research, and our space needs to reflect that,” Etzel said.